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Old 10-28-2014, 01:25 PM   #1
Peter Boylan
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Showing Respect: Don't Try To Out Japanese the Japanese

I got asked about showing respect for teachers in Japan and the US, so I ended up writing this blog. Does this make any sense? I would like to get some stuff out there to combat the "More Japanese than thou" garbage I see too much of.

http://budobum.blogspot.com/2014/10/...-of-japan.html

Peter Boylan
Mugendo Budogu LLC
Budo Books, Videos, Equipment from Japan
http://www.budogu.com
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Old 10-28-2014, 03:04 PM   #2
James Sawers
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Re: Showing Respect: Don't Try To Out Japanese the Japanese

Thanks....good to know.....
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Old 10-28-2014, 10:28 PM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Re: Showing Respect: Don't Try To Out Japanese the Japanese

Nice essay, Peter!

Janet Rosen
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Old 11-30-2014, 09:17 PM   #4
Peter Boylan
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Re: Showing Respect: Don't Try To Out Japanese the Japanese

Glad you like it!

Peter Boylan
Mugendo Budogu LLC
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Old 12-03-2014, 11:09 AM   #5
Dan Richards
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Re: Showing Respect: Don't Try To Out Japanese the Japanese

Peter, that's a very good "when in Rome" article. I especially like your comments on hierarchy within the Japanese culture.

I don't think by any means that Japanese culture has a corner on showing respect. They just do it within the context of their society. From an American perspective, and also from someone who lived for many years in Europe, I find some of what might be called "respect" in Japan to be particularly harsh, and on some levels disrespectful on a human level. From the point of view of someone like J. Krishnamurti, actually violent and deeply racist in its nationalism.

Also, because of the more strict hierarchical nature in Japan, much of JMA smacks of Multi Level Marketing. And I see a huge lack of respect on many levels with that. Firstly, there are those at the top, many of whom arrived there through inflated dan grades. Secondly, they only remain in that position by suppressing the bottom, rather than truly being a support. And thirdly, many on the top actually manage to pull the wool over the eyes of people lower in the ranks, as if to make them feel that if they don't please the top brass that they'll be invalidated and unable to advance in the art.

Many are waking up to the fact that that is complete nonsense,. and in some cultures even seen as abusive behavior. Even Aikikai has lost serious footing in the Aikido world. I don't see them doing well moving into the next half century.

There are already pockets of very experienced people around the world who are bringing real innovation to aikido in a way that is simply not coming at of Japan any longer. Even within Japan, budo is losing serious traction. Yoko Okamoto said in an interview, "If we are to survive, we must appeal to the new generation. I want to update the old-fashioned image of Budo, without losing the essence."

Your article also aptly dovetails with Shoji Nishio's point and drives home the reminder that, "Budo must always reflect its surroundings. If it isn't newer and stronger, it isn't valid."

At our school, in New York in the US, we don't bow. We don't have any pictures hanging on the walls of dead people. People can wear whatever they want. We shake hands before and after class, with the occasional hug or fist bump. We look each other in the eye. Everyone is treated as an equal. Everyone is supported and encouraged to discover their own expression of movement and martial arts. We understand that having a relaxed body with mindful attention is an important component to truly learning the skills, and really getting them into the body.

We in no way hold people back, or do anything to delay their progress, or put anything out there to make people feel less than. We also at times train in ways that are far more dangerous than I have seen in most aikido dojos. But we have a level of trust, openness, and mindful attention to what we're doing that allows us to jointly train in those realms at times.

That's just the way we choose to roll as a reflection of our surroundings.

I love Italy and Italian food as much as anyone, and I even lived in Italy for awhile. And I can make a mean lasagne and knock out a stellar osso bucco. I know the difference between the foods in various regions in Italy, and have enjoyed them there all firsthand. I actually just noticed I have a copy of Pellegrino Artusi's "Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well" sitting here on the table. I was even taught how to make a Bellini personally by Harry Cipriani.

Part of what we're running into with "reflecting our surroundings" in many places around the world, is that people are waking up to the fact that they can learn and explore completely free of any cultural or organizational hierarchy. And in more and more cases, many of those people are surpassing levels that the old guard thought they'd held firmly in hand.

Recently, Japan has shown Scotland what real innovations in single-malt whisky can yield.

As the old guard dies off, and the hierarchies lose their relevance and importance, the best and most innovative Aikido in the coming decades, will be coming out of America. It's already happening.

Last edited by Dan Richards : 12-03-2014 at 11:17 AM.
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Old 12-04-2014, 11:11 PM   #6
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Re: Showing Respect: Don't Try To Out Japanese the Japanese

There are modern and traditional Japanese Martial Arts, the modern are popular with those who like less discipline and less of a military atmosphere in the dojo. As Americans of high rank and experience leave the tradition and formalities of Bushido, they treat martial arts more like a sport. The martial arts are what we have left from masters of the past who depended on the skills learned in the dojo and practiced on the battlefield. We need to show respect for the ancient traditions of body, mind, spirit harmony. We do that by following the practice of the masters. Modern procedures should be called by a modern name, rather than give the impression that the ancient martial art is being updated.
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Old 12-05-2014, 01:08 PM   #7
lbb
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Re: Showing Respect: Don't Try To Out Japanese the Japanese

I'm not sure the ideas of "modern" and "less military atmosphere" really go together, as far as Japanese martial arts are concerned.
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Old 12-08-2014, 06:33 AM   #8
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Re: Showing Respect: Don't Try To Out Japanese the Japanese

I like the comment in your introductory paragraph that respect is essential even before training. One of the things I enjoy most about training is being able to learn about a culture far older than my own; both the language and cultural values. The respect we show is indicative of the level of respect we have for ourselves.

Enjoyed this article. Thanks Peter

Chris Sawyer
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Tenshinkai Aikido Federation
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Old 12-09-2014, 04:47 PM   #9
Peter Boylan
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Re: Showing Respect: Don't Try To Out Japanese the Japanese

Quote:
Joe Salazar wrote: View Post
There are modern and traditional Japanese Martial Arts, the modern are popular with those who like less discipline and less of a military atmosphere in the dojo. As Americans of high rank and experience leave the tradition and formalities of Bushido, they treat martial arts more like a sport. The martial arts are what we have left from masters of the past who depended on the skills learned in the dojo and practiced on the battlefield. We need to show respect for the ancient traditions of body, mind, spirit harmony. We do that by following the practice of the masters. Modern procedures should be called by a modern name, rather than give the impression that the ancient martial art is being updated.
Actually, the modern martial arts are far more militarized than the older ones. Judo, karate, kendo and aikido all were heavily, and badly impacted by the military culture of the 1920s through the 1940s. The atmosphere in dojos for all of the 20th century arts is very, very different from that found in the old, pre-Meiji arts. The modern arts (even Judo which is late 19th century, and Aikido which didn't really begin to flourish until the 1950s) all absorbed the military style of teaching martial arts that everyone who trained experienced during the period of militarization and war that made up most of the first half of the 20th century. These arts were taught in schools, and practiced by people who had learned them in school and military atmospheres, and the style of teaching and learning became quite colored by the military style.

The koryu budo ryuha have far deeper roots and never absorbed the military style of practice that infected the modern arts. The koryu budo were too small to be of interest to the government and the military, and so were able to continue their practices without government interference.

Also, please don't call it "Bushido". That referred to the way of daily life among the bushi, something no one tries to pass on. "Budo" is a far better term, and doesn't have the liability of being attached to Nitobe's horrible book that was an attempt to create a myth to rival that of chivalry in the West. Nitobe was so ignorant of Japanese budo history that he thought he created the word.

Peter Boylan
Mugendo Budogu LLC
Budo Books, Videos, Equipment from Japan
http://www.budogu.com
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